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How to write a book? Beginner's Guide

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Today I bring to your attention a small treatise on the most important stage in writing a book. About preparing for this writing itself. You may have a question, why another article, if the preparation process has already been discussed on the blog in the article “How to write a book. Beginner's Guide? The fact is that "Beginner's Guide"Was written almost two years ago, at the dawn of creating a blog, but even now it does not lose reader interest and is constantly present in the top of the most viewed materials. But the more I look at that record, the more I want to add, expand and deepen it. Over the past two years, the baggage of my knowledge has grown significantly, and therefore there is a desire to more fully illuminate the first and most important stage in writing any book.

However, I do not want to correct and expand the old article. And not because I'm lazy. It is intended exclusively for those who are taking their first steps in the craft of writing, it only shows the basics - the main stages of work on a book. I'm afraid that if you stuff it with the subtleties and nuances with which I am going to start today's recording, for beginners it will become unbearable. That's why I decided to write something new.

Think it over.

So, you decided to write a book, overwhelmed with enthusiasm, but do not know yet which side to approach. Right now, it's time to think things over.

Firstly, I do not advise you to undertake writing a novel, if you have not written at least five or six stories. After all, it is only at first glance very simple - sit down at the computer and write the chapter after chapter. In practice, creativity is hard and tedious work, which requires, in addition to perseverance, specific training, knowledge of the many subtleties and patterns that I try to comprehensively cover in the framework of the blog “Literary workshop". Therefore, if you sit down to write a novel without any experience working on at least stories, you will most likely fail, and the matter will not be completed. Therefore, before writing a novel, I recommend practicing and getting a hand on the stories. The principles of building work on small prose on the blog are the article "How to write a story? Beginner's Guide". I strongly recommend that you read this manual, especially since many of its points perfectly complement today's publication.

Step 1: “Practice the stories.”

Secondly, if you still decide to write a novel, you must clearly determine for yourself what it will be about and what you want to convey to the reader with its help. Until a clear understanding of these issues arises in one’s head, one cannot write a book. I think you will agree with me that any large literary work should carry an idea, and it is better, of course, if this idea stands out against the general background. And even if you decide to write a book based on the events of your own life, the main idea should still be present in it. Nowhere without her.

Step 2: "Decide on an idea."

Be patient.

Once you have strengthened your desire to write a book and consider its main idea, proceed to the preparation stage. It is likely that the preparation will stretch for several months. This should not confuse or excite you. Believe me, it should be so. Personally, I highly recommend that you do not start writing the text before the preparatory phase is completed, otherwise you will most likely have to rewrite your book in whole or in part. And to cut and redraw an already finished text is psychologically very unpleasant.

So, the preparation stage consists primarily in drawing up a general plan of the novel. This process is very similar to writing a story plan (which was discussed in the article “How to write a plan of a literary work?"), But much deeper and longer. Be prepared for the fact that you have to process huge amounts of information, come up with several dozen names and descriptions, pick up a whole list of geographical names for your story.

Briefly indicate those items that should contain a general plan:

  • The synopsis of the novel,
  • Cards of the main characters, including names, descriptions of appearance and clothes, psychological portraits, general and local goals for each character. For more details on how to do this, read the article “How to make a detailed character card?»,
  • Location cards. Here you need to describe the main places in which events will take place, describe the situation, highlight the main details,
  • A brief and consistent description of all the events of the story, broken down into chapters.

In addition to the above, other elements may appear in the plan. For example, if the book’s action takes place in a fantasy world in which the characters are actively moving, then most likely you will have to draw it a map. If the narrative has a wide time frame or a rich background, then you may need event Ribbon. It indicates the dates and brief descriptions of important events of the novel, or occurring before the beginning of the narrative. In general, drawing up a plan is the same creative activity, often even more interesting than writing or working with text, so you need to approach it creatively and with pleasure. Remember that the time and effort spent in the preparatory phase will more than pay off later.

Step 3: "Make a general plan of the novel."

Consistent work on each chapter.

After you have your general plan for the book ready, start making plans for each chapter. If a lot of chapters are planned (more than ten), then it’s wise to start writing directly after completing the next plan — this will make things more fun. However, do not forget that sitting down for writing without a ready-made general plan is extremely undesirable.

In the plan of each chapter you enter:

  • Synopsis of the chapter,
  • Cards of actors
  • Chapter location cards,
  • A brief and consistent description of all the events in the chapter, divided into scenes.

You can add some more materials to taste. If, for example, you carefully work on the psychological component, you can note the mood swings of the characters in the course of the chapter, noting how it was before and what it became after the events. It is also sometimes useful to throw a small background to the chapter: to identify for yourself those events that do not fall into the book, but indirectly affect what is happening.

In general, having trained in the first few chapters, you will already clearly define for yourself the range of necessary elements of the plan and will work on them.

Step 4: “Make a detailed plan for each chapter.”

After completing the preparatory phase, you can safely begin writing.

The key to writing a novel is consistency and perseverance. This work is for the diligent and purposeful. Sometimes work through "I do not want", almost always work without inspiration. Personally, I don’t know if it’s possible, in principle, to write a book of, say, four hundred pages with only one inspiration? I doubt it very much. So gather your will into a fist and get ready for a real test of creativity. I don’t want to scare, but most likely you will have such moments when you want to abandon everything and forget when there is not a single fresh thought in your head. You need to go through all this, all this must be courageously overcome for the final positive result. You are not the only one, everyone has difficulties in their work.

I note that it is extremely undesirable to allow long pauses in writing (more than 4-5 days). Of course, sometimes a short rest is necessary, but if the breaks are greatly delayed, you can lose interest in the venture. Remember the slogan "Not a day without a line"And try to write daily.

I highlight two approaches to writing texts:

  • The first is speed writing, and his goal is to finish the work as quickly as possible. The main work, therefore, is transferred to the next stage - editing. In it, the necessary details are added to the text, errors are corrected, grinding is performed. Personally, I used this method for a long time in my practice, since often external factors (home, noise, calls, TV, etc.) did not allow me to concentrate properly while writing. The minus of this approach is obvious: editing and straightening the text is sometimes much more difficult than writing “as it should” from the very beginning.
  • The second approach focuses on thoughtful work on each phraseover each paragraph. In this case, the process itself is very slow, the author ponders each sentence for a long time, often corrects pieces of text right at the time of writing. This greatly simplifies subsequent editing, since the text has in fact already undergone primary processing. I note that such an approach requires a calm atmosphere and full focus on writing.

You are free to use any of these approaches, or combine them. Over time, you will develop your own writing rhythm, convenient for you.

Naturally, the writing process includes many diverse subtleties: for example, the struggle with cliches and parasitic words, the construction of descriptions and dialogs, the work with means of artistic expression and much, much more. Of course, it is not possible to cover these issues in the framework of this article, otherwise it would have turned into a full-fledged book. To each of them I devote separate articles of the blog “Literary workshop", So I recommend subscribing to updates to always be in the know about the release of fresh materials.

Step 5: “Write persistently and persistently. Desirable every day. "

Editing and debugging.

The final stage, which, in principle, can last indefinitely. Editing consists in re-reading the text repeatedly and correcting the errors found, polishing the formulations, combating cliches and parasitic words.

What does that require?

First, you need to know in person those flaws that we are going to correct. These include various kinds of clericalism, stamps, repetitions, tautologies. Read more about each of these shortcomings in the following articles of the Literary Workshop blog or in specialized literature.

Secondly, knowledge of spelling and punctuation will not be superfluous. Because mistakes and misplaced punctuation marks seriously spoil the impression of the text. In our age of computer technology and the Internet, there are many spell-checking programs, but they are not always able to handle the fiction text, and this does not exempt them from studying the rules of their native language. Therefore, it will not be superfluous to refresh your knowledge of the Russian language.

Thirdly, it is important to outline how the editing process will go. The main options that I use are as follows:

  • Reading text to yourself from the monitor screen. The most standard method is to read and correct the text multiple times. The principle "the bigger, the better", And ideally you need to finish editing when there is nothing more to fix. However, in practice, few people have the patience to make more than a dozen reads, especially if the thing turned out to be voluminous.
  • Reading text out loud from a monitor screen. Helps to correct the rhythm and melody of the written. Very often, beginning writers do not pay attention to the sound of the text: for example, they do not notice the accumulation of consonants at the junction of two words (something like “master in fear"). But when the text is read aloud, such places immediately pop up - the smoothness of speech on them is broken. Naturally, such defects must be corrected. I will definitely tell you more about phonetic flaws in one of the following articles.
  • Reading text to myself from paper. Surprisingly, as soon as the text appears on paper, it becomes completely different from the one that we so long and stubbornly corrected on the computer screen. Shortcomings immediately catch my eye. Here we also need to correct them! I have long discovered this technique for myself and now use it sporadically. Recommend!
  • Check for repetitions and tautologies using the “New Look” program. This application helps in checking what is written when your own eye is no longer able to catch flaws. The New Look program is good at finding repetitions, root words and tautologies that are hard to find on your own.
  • Correction of errors and typos found by critics. Usually, after the author has gone through all the steps (or maybe circles?) Of editing, you should give the manuscript to a knowledgeable person so that, after reading, he can point out errors. Many writers have a so-called “home critic” - a close relative or friend who is entrusted with the right to be the first to read a new work. And this, too, is undoubtedly part of the editing, and sometimes, if the critic is sufficiently competent and sophisticated in literary issues, it can bring considerable benefit to the fresh work.

Step 6: “Edit the written text.”

Here is a brief and complete way of writing a book. Of course, it is long and thorny, but I think the final result is worth the effort. I wish you good luck in your endeavors and more finished works.

Of course, within the framework of one article it is impossible to cover in detail all the questions concerning the work on the novel. A very important competent study of the plot (blog section "Plot power") and characters (you can start with the article"Character work"). For authors of more sophisticated and experienced blog there is an article about secrets of preparing for writing a book. I highly recommend it for review.

If you liked this article, subscribe to the blog "Literary workshop"To always be in the know about new interesting articles about the secrets of writing. See you soon!

The material for the book is ultimately divided into two parts:

  • theory - these are diagrams, tables, maps and lists that show the characteristics of heroes and the world, which take into account the pivotal episodes of the plot, spell out the names of characters, geographical names, a system of magic or social relations, political moves, etc.,
  • “Live” text - fragments of episodes, dialogues and monologues, sketches of legends and stories of the world or heroes.

Step 4: material processing. When you have accumulated enough information (and “enough” for everyone), you can begin to process the material - and to write a book.

Material processing may be as follows:

1. “Patchwork” - for those who have a lot of heterogeneous “live” text, but few schematic links: large and small snippets of episodes through leading questions are gradually “stitched” into a single whole - into a chapter, part or storyline.

It is important here to first plot the plot, even the simplest one: who is the hero, where he is going, why he is going, who he will meet, why he will meet, what will come of it, etc.

After that, with a glance at the diagram, “flaps” of text are distributed. If the idea is big, then the episodes should first be divided into books, then - in parts, then - in chapters.

Those “flaps” that do not correspond to the concept of the plot should be set aside and, if they are liked, then either redone or completely excluded from the work. The episodes have already done their main business: the “live” text stores not so much information as an emotional mood, which is then transmitted to you and with which you write.

2.“Oil painting” - for those who have a lot of theoretical materials, the plot is thoroughly thought out and all the maps are drawn, but very little “live” text. There are brushes and paints, mental images are - and there is an empty canvas, it is also a Word document, on which it is time to “draw”.

Theorists are extremely difficult to “go” the text and there are certain problems with the “vision”. There is an image, but features and details do not add up to a single whole, there is no sensation of a hero or a situation. And the writing of each subsequent paragraph is difficult.

a) outline of chapters,

b) selection of suitable images-pictures.

The synopsis is prescribed thoroughly, for each chapter: got up - washed - shaved - left the house - went along the road - and so on. After each sub-item, key questions are asked - “what time did you get up, why did you get up, what matters should be done, how are they related to leaving your home” - and the answers to these questions are translated into a text that first creates paragraphs and then chapters.

Suitable pictures, in turn, complement the outline of the art details (what the hero looks like, what is the situation in the room), and at the same time help you feel the atmosphere of the moment. If you are not indifferent to music, then suitable songs will also benefit - in terms of meaning, rhythm, and emotional mood.

Step 5: love your story and find time for it. Do you think that working with material is more important? But when the information is collected, sorted, when the first lines are written, when the work is started, it is sometimes difficult, twisting in the affairs of reality, to maintain an inspired mood and love for your story. Because it does not work out the way you conceived it. Because instead of one, another is written. And it’s so difficult at first to select words, and beautiful mental pictures in your writing seem tongue-tied, crooked and uninteresting ...

But in fact, everything is going as it should. Everyone begins to write poorly. And what is written will always be different from what was invented - how the photo of the area differs from the real area. You need to get used to it. And love your work and your story.

And, of course, it is important to find time for work. And if it’s once or isn’t written, you need to at least ponder the story, look at the notes and dream - to be there in your story: a hero in the center of events or an ordinary spectator.

A dream is both the main engine of work and the main “anchor” that will keep you close to your story.

Write boldly. Love your work. Dream! And do not be afraid! Book skills come only with experience.

Part 1. The necessary materials and workplace

Choose your writing instruments. There is no right or wrong way to write books. Some believe that working on a computer alienates them from their own creativity, so they write by hand. Others, on the contrary, prefer a computer because of the ease of editing, as well as the convenience of finding all the necessary information on the Internet. Choose an option that you like, thanks to which you will work productively and efficiently.

Create an organization system. Choosing a computer or paper and pencil as a working tool, you can not do without a system of organizing your own ideas. It is better to create a system until the moment when your records become too confusing and you cannot understand what exactly you had in mind. When working on a computer, create one folder for the entire book, and then create separate folders for various types of information. If you use paper and a pencil, then select one drawer in the table in which all materials for the future book will be stored. Fold in it notebooks or folders with files containing various types of information.

  • It is no secret that books of scientific content require the analysis of a large amount of information. Your system should allow you to quickly and easily find the necessary information.
  • If you are writing a novel, you can create separate folders and files with information about the development of characters. For example, if one of the characters is an ambulance worker, then you should study this subject to make your character look realistic.
  • You can use special programs to help writers organize accessible data and chapters.

Choose a permanent place to work. For most people, constancy will guarantee a schedule. So, a significant part of the world famous series of books Harry Potter Joan Rowling wrote at the Nicholson Cafe.

  • If the atmosphere and the noise of crowded places distract you, then you better work at home.
  • At the same time, there are also certain obstacles at home. If the bed or the TV interferes with your work, then try to find a suitable place outside your home.
  • It is important to find a convenient, familiar place to work, where you will be happy to come every day.

Choose a place that inspires you. Each author has his own sources of inspiration. What factors evoke your creative thinking? If this is a peaceful nature, then try working on a picnic bench in a local park. If observing people encourages you to create characters, then look at your favorite cafe. If you work at home, then choose your favorite room in the apartment.

  • Do not work in places that you associate with stress or negativity. For example, if you work in the kitchen, then you can constantly think about household chores.

Make your workplace as comfortable as possible. If the work chair is constantly creaking or you are uncomfortable sitting on it, then you will not be able to concentrate on work. Simplify your task and create the most convenient working conditions. Do not forget that it will be easier for you to control working conditions at home.

  • Maintain a comfortable temperature. If your home is not equipped with a temperature controller, then choose warm or light clothing to adjust to the surrounding environment.
  • Choose a comfortable chair. Use soft pillows to make you comfortable sitting during long work sessions, as well as not to numb your back.
  • Organize your work materials so that you can easily work with them. Why go deeper into the search again when work on the next chapter is in full swing? At home, you can put a rack next to you or lay out folders with documents. In public places, it is enough to have the necessary books with you.

Decorate your workplace. The stronger the workplace reflects your personality, the more time you will want to devote to work. When you write a book, there should be objects around you that can bring inspiration. How do you motivate yourself? If there is one specific book that always arouses the urge to write in you, then keep it near you in case of a creative crisis. You can put pictures of your family or quotes from your favorite authors on your desktop. Surround yourself with your favorite shades of color or turn on your favorite music in the background. Your workplace should make you want to work every day.

Part 2. The mode of operation

Choose the best time to work. Some people find it most convenient to work in the morning when the house is quiet, and consciousness is still free from everyday tasks. But if you are not a lark, it may turn out that instead of work you will fall asleep at the table. Do not be fooled and honestly decide when and how you best work.

Do not forget about other obligations. When you develop a work schedule for a book, you must also take into account things that will distract you. Do you have a “floating” schedule at your main place of work? Most of the time taken by young children? Do you need to constantly pay attention to teenage children? You need to choose the optimal mode of operation: a strict or flexible schedule.

  • If your working hours are unchanged, then outline the strict time frame for working on the book.
  • With a “floating” schedule, you will need to devote every free minute to the book.

Create a schedule for writing a book. If the book becomes a part of everyday life, then it will be easier for you to achieve your goals and finish work on it in time. Determine how much of the next day you will spend on the book, and plan other things based on this time. The type of schedule depends on your daily work (for example, a “floating” schedule will not allow you to adhere to a strict time frame). The main rule is to allocate at least one hour to the book every day without interference. The more time you have, the better! It is not necessary to work continuously: you can devote a book one hour in the morning before work and another hour in the evening, when the rest of the household went to bed.

Promise yourself not to violate the established regime. When you sat down to work, nothing should distract your attention. Do not answer calls and messages, ask your spouse to look after the children so that you can maintain concentration. You may need to discuss all conditions with your family members. Ask them to be sympathetic and not to interfere with your work on the book.

Set a deadline for completing the book. In this matter, a delicate balance is required. You need to stimulate yourself to work so that laziness does not prevail, but at the same time, the timing should be reasonable. Do not drive yourself into impossible limits. You should study your schedule and soberly assess the time available. Here are some examples of norms and timelines when writing a book:

  • Daily word count: try to write 2,000 words every day
  • Number of notebooks: the written volume per month should occupy one spiral notebook
  • Dates for each chapter
  • Information Collection Timelines

Enlist the help of a partner. The partner may be another writer who is currently working on a book. You can report to each other about the goals and the work done. Easy to download when you are on your own. Having mutual responsibility will help to cope with laziness and obstacles in order to complete the work on time.

  • Meet with your responsible partner regularly. Depending on the schedule, you can see each day or once a week. The main thing is to observe systematic meetings.
  • Tell your partner about your schedule and goals / deadlines. He must understand when you are in time, and when you are behind the plan!
  • At these meetings, you can work on books shoulder to shoulder or view each other's work. The second pair of eyes will always notice something that can slip away from the author!

Part 3. Planning and elaboration

Choose a book genre. To decide which book to write, you should consider which books you like to read. Which departments of a bookstore or library attract your attention? At the weekend, do you usually read romance novels or study biographical information about historical figures? Are you better off reading a voluminous novel, or are you enjoying the tight time frame of stories?

  • Authors are best disclosed in the genre that is closer to them.
  • Usually there is a direct connection with your reading preferences. Choosing your favorite genre about which you know literally everything in the world, you can write a good book and get the most out of the process!

Define the purpose of the book. When you decide on the genre of the book, then reflect on what you want to tell the reader. Think about why you value your favorite books of this genre. So it will be easier for you to determine the purpose of writing your book. For example, a biography of George Washington will help you better understand the history of the United States. Detective novels are breathtaking, stir up curiosity and surprise the reader. Fantasy novels help transcend the real world and give free rein to the imagination.

  • Try to formulate the desired impact on the reader in writing.
  • State your goals before starting work so that they serve as a guide if you lose your way during work.

Gather the necessary information. If your task is to provide the reader with specific information, then it is obvious that you will need to devote a lot of time to collecting and analyzing the available information. But do not assume that romance novels or dramatic stories do not require comprehensive preparation. If the actions of the book will take place in the past, then you must recreate a realistic picture of the world of those times. If one of the heroes of the book is a policeman, then you must correctly describe his occupation. The collection and analysis of information is the only sure way to present a plausible story to the reader.

  • Study manuals and textbooks to accurately describe the character’s work and speech. Do not use professional terms incorrectly!
  • Explore historical eras online and in specialized books.
  • Talk with experts in the field about which you are going to write a book.

Make a plan for the book. As you gather information, your idea of ​​the book will begin to develop into a single whole. As soon as you can catch your preferred plot direction, feel free to start planning your future book.

  • Each section of the book should be represented by a plan item.
  • The paragraphs can be expanded with subparagraphs to supplement them with important details that need to be included in the section.
  • In the process of working on a book, your plan may grow and undergo changes. Add new information and delete unnecessary items, but always check the plan so as not to deviate from your goals.
  • If the collection of information is completed and you have a plan ready, then you can start writing a book!

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